Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Grappling with Russiagate

A weak day, except for the Manafort Trial it's mostly a rehash of old stuff. 

Manafort on trial: A scorched-earth prosecutor and not a mention of Trump
No one mentioned Donald Trump. Robert Mueller, either. The word "Russia" was not uttered.

On the first day of the first trial to result from the special counsel's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, President Trump did not tweet about any "rigged witch hunt." He said nothing about "13 Angry Democrats," his biting shorthand for the prosecutors who are examining any potential ties between his campaign and Russian operatives.

Instead, on the ninth floor of the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, the first defendant to face a jury in the year-and-a-half-old investigation - Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort - looked pale as he tried to make eye contact with the just-seated, racially mixed jury of six men and six women.

He smiled wanly. The jurors did not smile back.

The nation's inaugural look at special counsel Mueller's team in action started with a bang. Assistant U.S. Attorney Uzo Asonye, brought onto the special counsel's staff from the Alexandria federal prosecutor's office for this case, faced the jury and declared: "A man in this courtroom believed the law did not apply to him."
Right out of the box, the prosecutor made sure the  jury knew Manafort had a $15,000 jacket 'made from an ostrich'
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis pointed out that it’s not a crime to be rich after Asonye indicated that the prosecution will focus in part on Manafort’s “extravagant lifestyle” in the jury trial.
But rich and helping Trump win? Off with his head!
Manafort has a notorious penchant for costly things. The indictment against Manafort detailed evidence of expensive purchases, including a $21,000 Bijan black titanium wristwatch, multiple $10,000 custom-made suits, and oriental rugs valued at a total of $934,000.

“Paul Manafort travels in circles that most people would never know,” said Thomas Zehnle, one of Manafort’s five defense lawyers. “He lived a lifestyle that most people can only dream of.”

Jurors will likely be shown photographs and other evidence of these and more luxury items as the trial proceeds.
From the comments:
Someone explain to me why offshore accounts work for corporations but not individuals. He should be taxed on the money he brings into the US but not on money earned outside the US and not brought in. What is different about the Manafort case? If he evaded taxes on money he brought into the US put him somewhere dark for a long time.
At Althouse: Prosecutor tells the jury that Manafort owned a $15,000 “jacket made from an ostrich" and had a "golden goose in Ukraine."
Why do I find it so funny that he said "jacket made from an ostrich" instead of "jacket made of ostrich leather" (or "ostrich leather jacket")? It creates a sense that it's very weird to appropriate animals for the manufacture of items for human comfort and pleasure. But only a comedian would say, That man is wearing shoes made from a cow!
The politics of envy. From the comments:
Huffpo perfectly meets my expectation by failing to include a brief interruption by the judge around this part of the prosecution's opening argument: "It is not a crime to have lots of money and spend lavishly."
Laura Hollis at the Boston Herald FISA documents reveal FBI collusion, but, but, Trump says collusion is not a crime as first Russia probe trial begins (Yahoo!). Notice that they get Russia in the headline despite the fact the trial has nothing to do with Russia. Greg Farrell at Bloomberg: Forget Collusion. Conspiracy’s the Watchword in Mueller’s Filings.
“To say there’s no crime of collusion means nothing,” said Rocah. “That label isn’t in the criminal statutes. But that doesn’t matter because the conduct that underlies collusion can be, under certain circumstances, conspiracy to defraud the U.S.”

The statute -- Title 18 U.S. Code 371 -- makes it a crime for two or more people to “conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose." The maximum penalty is five years.
I have no problem calling what the FBI did conspiracy against the United States, Mueller's favorite ambiguous crime. Watcher of Weasels explains the evolution of the Deep State. AllahPundit wishcasting:  Dem Rep On Judiciary Committee: I Think Don Jr And Jared Kushner Will Both Be Indicted. Trump should preemptively go after Chelsea Clinton.
A leftover from yesterday that caught Wolf Blitzer off-guard, of note mainly because it dovetails perfectly with what Jonathan Turley warned about yesterday. Like I said last night, the odds that Mueller is going to blow up Trump’s presidency by producing evidence that gets him impeached are small. The odds that Mueller is going to get Trump to blow up his own presidency by indicting a Trump family member are much better. Watch, then read on.
Meanwhile, as Insty notes in his USA Today gig: During all the Russia hacking hype, China is rising in influence. Think of Russia as the distraction while China picks our pockets. Except for it's nuclear missiles (and there is that) Russia is not a serious military threat. China is. Twitter Suspends GOP Senate Candidate For Defending Himself Against ‘Russian Agent’ Claims. True, it's InfoWars.
“Twitter and Democratic aligned super PACs are interfering with the federal senate race in Missouri by temporarily blocking my account due to a picture I shared which was located within Twitter’s own GIF file collection. ShareBlue, a Democratic Super PAC, attempted to paint me as colluding with Russia in a recent hack attempt on my opponent Senator Claire McCaskill simply because my campaign accepts Bitcoin, a digital crypto currency. Responding to the attack with a humorous photo of Stalin waving, Democrats seized on this as if it were a credible threat, mass reporting my account and having it restricted for 12 hours. This action is deeply troubling and deserves national attention now, with the Missouri primary 7 days away, having a candidate silenced is a threat to American democracy.”
This is too funny. @RudyGiuliani dropped a bombshell in a CBS interview with @margbrennan today, and apparently no-one has caught on to i...
"Dozens" of recordings. With Michael @MichaelCohen212 and journalists discussing the campaign, president-elect, and President Trump.
7. And because the subject of those recordings was his client, Donald Trump, the recordings of the journalists were turned over to Rudy Giuliani, President Trump's lawyer.
. . .
9. So President Trump and Rudy Giuliani have at least a dozen (or so) recordings of journalists discussing their opinions of, and intentions toward, their coverage of Donald Trump. 😂

Release the tapes! Da Beast: Rudy Giuliani on His Odd Cable News Blitz: I Was Trying to Kill a New York Times Story. Dr John at Flopping Aces: Somebody’s lying. It’s either Michael Cohen or Michael Cohen

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